The Martian Trailer 2: Get With The Space Program, Already


 

The funny thing is, after I decided to recently zip through the book (it’s a great summer read, by the way) and took the longer range viewpoint I usually do, these trailers really don’t bug me at all. In a way, the filmmakers are a bit pushed and painted into the proverbial corner because being too vague means you get unfairly compared to Chris Nolan’s Interstellar (although that’s what’s been happening online anyway). On the other hand, anyone who didn’t like Prometheus and didn’t know Ridley Scott’s other, better sci-fi films might see either of the two trailers and say to themselves (or online to whomever is reading what they write) “Not THAT guy again!” or words to that effect. Rock, meet hard place. Of course, a film’s performance should be based on how well it does among those who actually see it as opposed to those who don’t and won’t that spend more time griping about it.

The Martian banner 

But so goes the modern world these days, I guess. The Martian is in theaters October 2, 2015. Go read the book at some point beforehand. Or afterwards.

The Hateful Eight: Tarantino’s 70MM Western Will Rake In More Than A Fistful of Dollars


 

For some reason I thought Quentin Tarantino had directed MORE than a paltry eight films in his career. But I think I was including stuff he didn’t direct directly in that number plus some TV work he’s had a hand in. Whatever. The Hateful Eight is looking fine and grim and chilly as it packs in some of the director’s favorite actors into a snowbound winter cabin and lets them chew the scenery. I’m expecting a bit of back-stabbery and gun-shootery bits with the trademark Tarantino touches wrapped up in an all new score by Ennio Morricone. As the film takes place a few years after the Civil War, I’d not expect to see any modern in-jokes here. But I’ll expect some of the characters in the film to get in references to some of their previous work.

Of course, I’m only basing that on Kurt Russell seemingly making a nod to his MacReady character from John Carpenter’s still fantastically freaky 1982 remake of The Thing. Hey, I don’t look for this stuff in trailers, folks. It. Finds. Me. I think. Anyway, The Hateful Eight is out in a limited 70MM Panavision release this Christmas Day with a wider release set for January 8th, 2016 “everywhere else”. I guess the roadshow version is for the Academy folks to check out before they get to that Oscar balloting stuff they do. I saw some fine actors doing their thing, but didn’t see anything “award winning” in that too-brief trailer. But with Tarantino films, you really need to see the whole thing before making any judgments for or against them.

The Eyes Have It (Less): Things To Come (If You’re Still Around To Read Them)

(thanks, VIDEOJAXX!)
 

Day four or so of the icky eye is going okay. It’s looking almost normal but I’m still not venturing too for into the outside world. I did do some shopping over the last two days, but between the black sunglasses and hand sanitizer I’d been whipping out, I’m betting I look like a really paranoid celebrity. Or a blind guy making sure there’s no evidence while stocking up on doomsday supplies.

Anyway, I have a lot of crap to yak about in a few days. Everything from the Muppet mess-up I’m annoyed and amused about to what the hell is wrong with some people and overly criticizing certain games (and their audiences). But let’s not get ahead of things. First things first, that damn eye needs to stop doing its thing and get back to normal.

Blu-Ray/DVD Review: Contamination

Contamination MVD7368BRUp until a few years back, I’d never considered Luigi Cozzi’s sci-fi and fantasy films anything more than hilariously terrible pastiches of far better films. But getting older and mellower has made me take a fresh look and appreciate them a lot more, warts and all. I’m finding that while somewhat hampered by budgetary constraints and packed with some truly laugh-worthy visual effects, there’s an earnestness and respectable amount of passion in them that makes up for most of the inadequacies.

Yes, Star Crash still makes me cringe and the two Hercules films are more overly colorful comic book reworkings gone haywire of classic mythology. But you can clearly feel the director’s intent on making movies from the heart even as they bust your gut from unintentional and intentional laughter.

Contamination, Cozzi’s 1980 gorier “homage” to Ridley Scott’s classic Alien has gotten an excellent Blu-Ray restoration thanks to Arrow Video. Not only do you get a lovely AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer in 1.85.1 widescreen, there’s a great set of old and new interviews with the director and Maurizio Guarini of Goblin (who did the film’s score) as well as a fun look at other Italian genre flicks that swiped ideas from blockbusters. As for the film itself, as I hadn’t seen it for over 30 years, it was certainly a fun and bloody trip down memory lane as well as something of a love letter to New York City where some of the establishing shots were films.
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A “B” I Need to See: Les Raisins de la Mort

The Grapes of Death MP

Poster courtesy Horrorpedia.com- GO SUBSCRIBE!


 

I’ve never seen Jean Rollin’s 1978 horror flick Les Raisins de la Mort (The Grapes of Death), but I do vaguely recall discussing the film with a friend a few years back in a conversation about foreign horror movies. I’d forgotten all about it until YouTube user Sleaze-O-Rama posted the trailer below:

(thanks, Sleaze-O-Rama!)

And now, the hunt begins for a DVD as I prefer to borrow or outright own my movies and not stream or steal them. It’s not an urgent “get” at all. But if I see this one in my travels and it’s affordable, I’ll be adding it to the library when I can.

Blu-Ray Review: Spider Baby

Spider Baby Arrow CoverJack Hill’s amusing and mildly disturbing 1964 horror classic Spider Baby finally gets the feature-packed Blu-Ray treatment is deserves courtesy of Arrow Video and MVD and it’s a must for fans of the formerly forgotten flick that became a cult classic. “The maddest story ever told” still holds up today as quite the viewing experience as well as on original little low budget flick that still packs quite a kick in a few places.

The story of the Merrye family’s twisted offspring and their strange caretaker Bruno is, for all the creepy, unsettling antics taking place, quite an emotional tale at heart. Three siblings Virginia (Jill Banner), Elizabeth (Beverly Washburn) and Ralph (Sig Haig) live with Bruno (Lon Chaney Jr.) in a decrepit mansion well off the beaten path with a few other relatives. Thanks to inbreeding among the family, all suffer from a genetic condition that makes them regress mentally into primitive states that make them more than a little dangerous to be around. Bruno does his best to keep his unbalanced charges in line, but after a mailman (Mantan Moreland) is killed and distant relatives arrive to claim the mansion and surrounding property for themselves, things take a turn for the darkly comedic worse. Continue reading

Random Film of the Week(end): Bloody Birthday

Bloody Birthday MP 2If you’ve never had children and are thinking of bearing your own brood, watching a film like 1981’s Bloody Birthday just might put you off the idea for a while. Like forever. This sort of obscure horror flick isn’t anywhere near as gory as many of the more familiar 80’s “B” movies at all. But the overall tone is more than a tiny bit disturbing as the film is more or less an unfiltered version of The Bad Seed without the tacked-on Hollywood ending.

The funny thing is from the opening moments you’d think the film was going to be somewhat supernatural in nature. But it’s not at all (which turns out to be a really good thing). In 1970, three babies are born to three different mothers at the same hospital during a solar eclipse and ten years later, all three end up as evil pre-teen murder machines. Who just so happen to live on the same block or at least within walking distance of each others homes. Yikes. The kids, Debbie (Elizabeth Hoy), Curtis (Billy Jayne), and Steven (Andy Freeman) manage to whittle down the population of Meadowvale, California while remaining undetected because who’d see such innocent little darrrrrrlings as a trio of mini-Manson family members? Well, perhaps Debbie’s dad, who happens to be the town sheriff? Nope. He’s more clueless than a headless Sherlock Holmes. Faster than you can say “There goes the neighborhood!”, well… you know the rest of that one, right?

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The Martian Trailer: Reading Is Fundamental. The Internet is NOT.

While this gorgeous trailer for Ridley Scott’s upcoming film based Andy Weir’s bestselling novel The Martian looks fantastic, it seems that there’s some internet outrage over the trailer spoiling the entire film by looking as if it plays out the entire plot in three minutes. It doesn’t. I haven’t even read the book yet but have talked to two people who have and as they’re they types who don’t go online and babble about what’s not in that trailer, I’m told that there’s a good deal you don’t see. Which makes perfect sense, mind you. Yes, movie trailers tend to be a bit too dumbed down in many cases and yes, there are films where you see pretty much everything you need to well before it hits theaters.

The “problem” with The Martian trailer is all that pent up anger about other film’s spoiler packed teases seems to have spilled over at just the wrong time. The easy way to avoid ANY spoilers to films you may be interested in is not to watch them, period. Of course, if you want NO spoilers at all, don’t even read the book the film is based on and go in cold as Mars after sunset. I bet you’ll enjoy the hell out of that film and want to go buy the book after you leave the theater. Also, stay OFF message boards and other sites where people waste time opining away based on their lack of information, unwillingness to learn any new information and tendency to argue to the death the most ill-informed and idiotic points easily quashed by actual facts. Your sanity will thank you kindly and you’ll be able to go about your day with less stress.

Case closed and you’re welcome.

Random Film of the Week: Invisible Invaders

Invisible Invaders MPSometimes revisiting an old film can reveal a load of new surprises, particularly if it ends up being a possible inspiration for later and better works. While not a great film by any stretch of the imagination, 1959’s Invisible Invaders managed to actually be a lot more thrilling than I recall from seeing it as a kid.

For one thing, it’s both an alien invasion and a zombie flick, melding sci-fi and horror pretty well despite some rather incredulous plot shenanigans. It’s also an unintentional response to Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space (also released in 1959) because it features more or less the same story executed far more effectively. Well, for a low budget flick, that is. Continue reading

Blu-Ray Review: The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Miss Osbourne

MVD7208BR Jekyll_OsbourneWalerian Borowczyk’s The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Miss Osbourne is a straight up shot of arty nightmare fuel that will seep into your pores and haunt you for a while after viewing. The director takes the classic Robert Louis Stevenson tale and like the perverse Jekyll and Hyde here (played here by Udo Kier and Gérard Zalcberg), has his way with the it and creates a pretty stunning and memorable piece of work. This isn’t your garden variety horror flick of the week and nope, it’s not for the kids or easily disturbed at all.

During an engagement party for Jekyll and Fanny Osbourne (Marina Pierro), sexual violence and assorted murders take place over the course of one terrifying evening. Initially, women are targeted but no one is safe from the clutches of Hyde’s perversions. Despite the mansion’s visitors and staff being whittled down every few minutes, none of the well-heeled guests has a clue as to who’s the culprit. As the debauchery continues, Miss Osbourne gets a clue as she’s looking for a hiding spot and spies Jekyll going through his transformation in a can’t take your eyes off the screen scene. Does she flee the mansion and try to find help or at least attempt to escape with her life? Let’s just say Fanny is repulsed on one hand, curiously compelled on the other and the combination makes her want to take a dip into that bathtub full of chemicals. Continue reading